Whilst much has changed in the ten years since I set up Tower Hill Associates, what drives me has remained the same. I believe that every client deserves good independent financial advice. The starting point and most important thing Tower Hill Associates can offer is a detailed financial plan developed specifically for the client.
Whilst trusted adviser is a much used, if not overused, term I believe it describes what lies at the core of what I do. I give my clients the same advice I would give myself in similar circumstances.
Against a backdrop of economic uncertainty and regulatory change, Tower Hill Associates has grown but we have also remained true to the principles and standards I envisaged at the outset. In my opinion the reason that Tower Hill Associates has been successful is that, ten years ago, I had the vision to set up a client focussed business that enabled me to deliver truly independent advice.
The first 10 years
In 2005, having spent many years working for large financial planning firms I decided that the time had come to start my own exclusively fee-based business. I believed firmly that client’s should be paying fees rather than commission – a model that was a long way from that generally on offer. Using an inheritance from my grandmother Tower Hill Associates Limited was incorporated on 26 October 2005 and was authorised by the Financial Services Authority (now Financial Conduct Authority) on 9 January 2006.
We are often asked where the name Tower Hill Associates comes from. It is a family name previously used by my father in his consulting business prior to his retirement which he kindly allowed me to use.
I was, and still am, committed to the highest professional standards both personally and for the business. Prior to forming Tower Hill Associates, in 2004 I qualified as a Certified Financial PlannerTM. I became a Chartered Financial Planner in 2007 and, more recently in 2016, became a Chartered Wealth Manager.
Having a professional model for Tower Hill Associates is very important. In November 2007 Tower Hill Associates became a Chartered Financial Planning Firm and in November 2011 we became an Accredited Financial Planning FirmTM .
In early 2014 Yvonne Lang joined the business as Operations Manager having previously been the National Technical Partner for the audit practice of Smith & Williamson. Yvonne’s experience in compliance and implementing procedures and processes has been of significant benefit to the way Tower Hill Associates operates.
Where did the clients come from? When the business was first formed it was recognised that considerable benefit could be derived from investing in a well optimised website. The time and resource put into developing the website paid off and, in the early years, the majority of new clients came via the internet.
The ever changing financial environment
The past 10 years has also seen some very significant events affecting the economy and considerable changes to the regulatory environment.
The banking crisis of 2008 resulted in massive uncertainty and volatility in financial markets. Having our clients in well diversified investment strategies aligned to their risk tolerance and financial goals meant we were able to successfully guide them through the uncertainty.
The Retail Distribution Review (RDR) resulted in a new approach to financial services coming into effect from 31 December 2012. For many advisers the changes were a huge challenge, but for Tower Hill Associates the changes had minimal impact. Having set the business up on an exclusively fee based model – the RDR brought the requirements imposed by regulators in line with the operating model already used at Tower Hill Associates.
Most recently, 2015 saw new legislation introduce greater pension flexibility. At Tower Hill Associates we were well placed to advise on the changes as we are retirement planning specialists and many of our clients are either in or approaching retirement.
Today and the future
Today we act for some 60 individuals and families offering almost exclusively a comprehensive ongoing financial planning service. Assets under administration are currently around £60 million.
We have worked hard to offer our clients what we think will be a better Investment experience and continue to work hard to improve that experience.
Despite what some might claim, there is no way of predicting the future. Investment markets are very uncertain and there is no reason to suppose that this will not remain the position. Some things will turn out better than expected and, inevitably, some will be worse. Focussing on what we can control is the antidote to unpredictability and we believe there are some key ingredients in our approach that have benefited our clients:
• Having an up to date financial plan reviewed at least annually
We are pleased to say that these days most of our new clients come from referrals by existing clients. We continue to look for clients with investable assets of £500,000 or more who might benefit from the Tower Hill Associates ongoing financial planning service.